As the summer temperatures begin to fade, a new crispness enters the air in Santa Cruz that marks the beginning of fall. The redwood forests fill with early morning fog as life begins to slow down to a peaceful and tranquil pace. Santa Cruz is known for its summer fun but the autumn season here is just as incredible! Get ready for pumpkin carving, apple picking, pumpkin-spiced flavored everything, and fall foliage. There is something for everyone to enjoy here in autumn whether you love getting cozy inside with a delicious pumpkin-flavored drink, exploring the foggy redwood trails, or visiting farms to pick pumpkins and apples with your little ones. Here are the top 5 ways to enjoy fall here in Santa Cruz County!
1.) Pick your Pumpkins Locally
Santa Cruz is an agricultural haven full of local farms that turn into vibrant pumpkin patches during fall. When trying to decide which pumpkin patch to visit, there are two types of farms to pick from: urban pumpkin patches located within the city or rural farms found outside of the city centers in more expansive settings. Both urban and rural pumpkin patches have endless options for you to find the perfect pumpkin for all of your fall needs whether you are looking to carve a jack-o-lantern or make a pumpkin pie! If you’re interested in an urban setting check out the fabulous Post Street Farm, which has spooky decorations as well as flowers to pick; or you can head to Live Oak for The Great Pumpkin Patch where you can paint your own pumpkin! Outside of the city, you can visit the idyllic Rodoni Farms with endless varieties of pumpkins and a 5-acre corn maze to explore.
2.) Go Apple Picking
One of the best festive fall activities to do here in Santa Cruz County is to go apple picking at one of our many picturesque orchards. Head out to Corralitos where Luz de Valle grows an astonishing array of different apple species like Fuji, Macintosh, and Galas. This orchard famously helps create Martinelli’s apple products and contributes to Santa Cruz Cider Company’s delicious hard ciders. You can even see their Arabian Horses and explore a historic barn on the property once you fill up your own bag full of delicious apples. Also, check out Clearview Orchards and the famous Gizdich Ranch in Watsonville for some of the best apples in the area! No matter which orchard you choose, you can pick apples to your heart’s content and treat yourself to some delectable fall delicacies made from your apple-picking bounty!
3.) View Fall Colors
The neighborhoods of Santa Cruz County come to life with fall color during the autumn season. One of the best ways to see the leaves change is to explore the gorgeous backstreets of the city. Santa Cruz’s Historic Downtown District, especially Walnut Avenue and Pacific Avenue, offers some of the most scenic places to watch the leaves change colors. You can watch golden hour light up the tree-lined streets as you take in the historic Victorian architecture. If you’re looking for a perfect fall morning in Santa Cruz, head downtown and grab a pumpkin flavored or other autumn specialty drink at a coffee shop like 11th Hour, Verve, or Santa Cruz Coffee Roasting Company and stroll down Walnut Avenue as you bask in the fall colors. Finish up your morning by exploring Pacific Avenue where you can view fall colors and shop at our local businesses.
4.) Visit a Winery
Another way to see spectacular fall colors in Santa Cruz County is to go wine tasting! The Santa Cruz Mountains are known as one of the best wine regions in the country, and in fall the cascading mountain vineyards transform into an autumn wonderland. Taste wine and take in the gorgeous mountain fall colors at wineries like Big Basin Vineyards or Burrell School Vineyards. The Corralitos wine region is also a spectacular spot to watch the rolling vineyards transform into fiery colors. Visit Windy Oaks Winery or Nicholson Vineyards for gorgeous landscapes and exquisite wines.
5.) Take an Autumn Hike
Santa Cruz is known for its redwood forests that offer endless hiking trails to choose from, but during the fall you can still see the leaves change colors as you explore the abundant nature our area has to offer! State Parks like Henry Cowell and its Fall Creek sector have gorgeous fall hikes along cascading rivers. In Henry Cowell, head to the River Trail and Eagle Creek to find fiery fall foliage. Hike Fall Creek, which follows a rushing river lined by colorful fall leaves and check out the unique lime kilns in Fall Creek that are shaded by colorful trees. Fall is also one of the best times to spot water-loving wildlife like newts and banana slugs while out on hikes.
Ready for a visit? Book your fall stay in Santa Cruz County now!